A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Moneyball

Dear Research Advocate:

Just in time for the World Series, a national campaign to make evidence-based government spending decisions has been announced. Moneyball for Government, a project of Results for America, advocates prioritizing limited taxpayer dollars by investing strategically in what works, eschewing “gut level” instinct for metrics-driven decision-making. Stakeholders in medical and health research sometimes have difficulty measuring or agreeing on metrics that matter; it’s time to work through this challenge so that when stakeholders talk about research accountability — in the current budget conversations or in any context — we can speak with one metric-driven voice to emphasize the returns on research investment in both lives and money saved.

Research!America is working to assure our message is in the forefront of the bipartisan Budget Conference Committee’s deliberations. We have written to the committee expressing the importance of investing in medical and health research to address the national debt and deficit. We urge the committee to eliminate the sequester; it continues to take a toll on our economy and our society, in part by eroding our capacity to innovate in the medical and health fields. Please join us in reaching out to your representatives to share the importance of prioritizing investments in research.

Other nations are struggling to make tough choices in these times of austerity as well, yet several have made the commitment to invest in research as an economic as well as health solution. The recent shutdown here, on top of sequestration, has further dulled the U.S. competitive edge. I called attention to this unacceptable state of affairs in a Politico article last week and again two days later in my interview with the Al Jazeera America news network. Science isn’t prioritized the way it used to be in the U.S. — but it must be again!

Research!America Board member The Hon. Patrick Kennedy wrote this week in a Boston Globe op-ed about key advances in mental health. He reminded us of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Community Mental Health Act by President John F. Kennedy. While we have made great strides over the past half-century, there is still much to do. The recently launched Kennedy Forum will work to unite the mental health community to advance research and treatments. As a community of interest, we need to work together to realize President Kennedy’s challenge to find a “bold new approach” to moving research to a higher national priority.

Each of us plays a role in that bold new approach to elevate the profile of research and its benefits. One of our recent Research Matters Communications Workshop participants put his communications skills to work on the Research!America blog, deputizing scientists to “become the hero science needs.” Fortunately, there are great models for aspiring heroes to emulate. This week, Research!America announced our 2014 Advocacy Award winners; an outstanding group of individuals who will be recognized for their heroic work on March 12, 2014, at the Advocacy Awards Dinner at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. As a reminder, sponsorship opportunities are now available.

One of those congressional heroes for science, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL), passed away last week at age 82. The C.W. Bill Young Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health is but one way he is memorialized. Research!America had the opportunity to honor him with the Edwin C. Whitehead Award for Medical Research Advocacy at our Advocacy Awards Dinner in 2001. He was a sitting Member of Congress, former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the longest-serving Republican in Congress and a true friend of medical research. He will be long remembered and truly missed. We extend our sincere condolences to his family.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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